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’It Was Ferocious’: Tom Cruise Is Known For His Stuntwork These Days, But He Had No Idea What He Was Getting Into With One Epic Romance Film

These days actor Tom Cruise’s stuntwork in some of the best action movies is one of his major claims to fame. However, that wasn’t always the case during the earlier days of his career as he took on more drama than action (with the exception of films like Top Gun). So, it makes sense that when he signed on to 1992’s epic romance Far and Away, the Mission: Impossible star didn’t know he’d be getting a “ferocious” crash course in stunt work.

In all fairness, the marketing for that Ron Howard-directed film wouldn’t have prepared anyone for the more intense component that Tom Cruise partook in. Nowhere was that more apparent than during his interview promoting the film with Rolling Stone, where Cruise candidly admitted that fact thusly:

It was ferocious — I didn’t realize it would be so physical. I really took a pounding. I had knuckles going into my back, my chest. And I really got hit in the ribs a lot. For about a week and a half, I was in constant pain.

To be fair, we need to set some more context for this moment. So let’s take it back to 1992, the year of Far and Away’s release. Long before Mr. Cruise and Christopher Nolan were competing for spots in large format thrills, this romantic epic was being released as the 70mm spectacle of its time.

A sweeping love story, co-starring his then-wife Nicole Kidman, this was a picture sold on the energy of love. But this is an epic romance after all, and part of that majesty was Tom’s character, Joseph Donnelly, having a bit of a career as a bare-knuckle boxer in the late 1800s. 

With Cruise’s resume at that point including Days of Thunder as his most recent film, this project was about to test him in ways a race car couldn’t. And the results led to scenes like the one you’re about to see below really testing the limits of the action star and his physicality:

When Far and Away hit theaters, Cruise was still four years away from stepping into the role of Mission: Impossible’s Ethan Hunt. This era in particular saw several of Tom Cruise’s iconic non-action roles come to fruition, as both A Few Good Men and Interview with the Vampire would be released in that gap. So you can see how both the man himself and his fans may have been thrown for a loop when seeing that bare-knuckle action for the first time. 

Which, again, feels far and away from more modern stories, like that Mission: Impossible – Fallout injury that left Cruise with a broken ankle. Speaking further to that point in the same archival interview, Tom Cruise described the following momentary reprieve in his training that really highlighted that change of pace: 

Once I got on my knees and just said, ‘Let me have a break here, guys.’ So they’d give me some oxygen and a little water, and then I’d go back to work. But boy, was it brutal.

These days, the all gas, no brakes style of Tom Cruise’s stunts has him pushing even further into the realm of daredevil antics. The upcoming Mission: Impossible 8 has a prime example of such promise, as a stunt involving Cruise standing on a biplane for the 2025 release has been a frequent point of conversation as of late. But if you ever want a reminder of that window in history before Tom’s action-lead prowess was at its height, look no further than the time that Far and Away served as a watershed moment towards making the impossible possible.

If you want to stream Far and Away, you can currently rent it on VOD. To see the modern action star we know today, you can also rent his film on the 2023 movie schedule, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One. 

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